Blessed Bertrand of Garrigues

† 1230

Feast Day: September 6

Bertrand was born in the town of Garrigues near Nîmes in the Languedoc, southern France, in the late 12th century. He grew up with an orthodox Catholic faith at a time when many strayed from a heresy called albigenses, which taught that there are two principles governing the world: one spiritual (good) and one material (evil). The heresy encouraged disregard for the body and taught that Jesus was an angel who appeared as a human but had no real body.

He was one of the first companions of Saint Dominic. He has been said to be "a true reflection of his master's holiness." Indeed, his zeal, his holiness, his kindness to others, and his strictness to himself have often been mentioned by authors of Dominican history1.

Originally from Garrigues near Nîmes in the Gard, he was seduced by holiness and by Saint Dominic's project to convert the Cathars through prayer and the example of a life of poverty and austerity.

In 1216 Dominic appointed him prior of the monastery of Toulouse. Then he sent him to Paris to found a monastery in the heart of the university, then the first in Christian Europe. For example, he took part in the founding of the Monastery of Saint James (known as the Jacobin Monastery) in 12172 with a small group of seven friars, including Mannès de Guzmán and Matthieu de France3.

Back in his native region, he set up several other branches in Montpellier and Avignon. He became provincial of the south of France (Provence Alpes Pyrénées) in 1221.

On the death of Saint Dominic, he assisted the sisters of the monastery of Prouilhe, a refuge for converted Cathar women.

Bertrand de Garrigues died on April 18, 1230 during a retreat he preached in a Cistercian abbey in Drôme, the Abbey of Bouchet, near Orange, where he had retired. His tombstone is in the abbey church. For centuries his tomb was the object of numerous pilgrimages; his statue was venerated by the faithful who had made him a saint. Many miracles are quoted from him. His body was examined three times between 1253 and 1561 and each time it was undamaged.

In 1870, the Bishop of Valence, Mgr Francis Guelette, gave his approval to the old veneration of Bertrand de Garrigues in his diocese. From then on, the beatification in Rome was proposed by the bishops of Paris, Toulouse, Marseille, Valence, Nîmes, as well as by the Order of the Dominicans to which he belonged. Finally, in 1881 Pope Leo XIII approved and authorized the office in honor of Bertrand de Garrigues in the dioceses of Nîmes and Valence and beatified him.